Environmental biomonitoring using mobile organisms in the Great Lakes

Great Lakes.

Researchers will develop and test flexible, wearable electronic sensors for in situ environmental biomonitoring of fish in the Great Lakes. This concept is based on an important research challenge in the world's largest freshwater ecosystem: How can we accurately measure the micro-scale environmental conditions experienced by mobile organisms?

Traditional environmental monitoring involves buoys, remote sensing, or direct human measurements, but the spatial resolution of such monitoring is insufficient for understanding fine-scale habitat use by mobile aquatic organisms. In this pilot study, researchers we will test the feasibility of attaching dissolved oxygen sensors to the external surface of fish as a first attempt to directly measure the environmental conditions experienced by fish. Researchers will also develop methods for sending data from sensors to acoustic modems that will wirelessly transmit data to Internet-connected stations on the water’s surface.  Rather than rely on passive environmental monitoring, this approach allows researchers to use the organisms themselves as environmental monitors – potentially transforming how we conduct ecological and environmental research.  

The project’s principal investigator is Trevor Krabbenhoft, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the RENEW Institute. Co-principal investigators are Jung-Hun Seo, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, Josep Jornet, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Susan Clark, Policy, Planning, and Sustainability Specialist, RENEW Institute, Michael Shelly, Environmental / Ecological Economist, RENEW Institute, Zia Ahmed, Database / Visualization Specialist, RENEW Institute.